Listen To Your Body

Neglecting our bodies puts a heavy toll on not only our physical being but our emotional life as well. Biological and biochemical changes warn us with symptoms that are created by these metabolic and hormonal changes.

Are you unable to sleep? Do you have anxiety or depression? Do you suffer from achy bones? Do you have digestive “issues”? Are you affected by personal or work related stress?

Once our attention is focused on the warning signs the next step is what to do to alter this state of congestion between the body and mind.

Begin by changing dysfunctional habits. These changes in conjunction with yoga, which can have healing potential, can help. How? Well, during yoga the asana’s/postures paired with pranayama/breathing activates our parasympathetic nervous system, counteracting stress.

You can also incorporate some detoxification thru proper diet and nutrition.

Do you remember the sayings “stop and count to ten” and “take a deep breath”??? There is something to performing these two simple tasks if you feel anger or stress.  They both slow the mind long enough to give us an opportunity to think for a moment, allowing us to focus and as our body relaxes it releases healthy hormones that awaken your vital centers, your mind and body become one adjusting our thoughts helping us to react appropriately.

To create inner harmony—Listen to your body!!!!!!

Yoga at O2, with my teacher Mimi Loureiro

Practicing yoga with one of your primary teachers is like coming home.  Your body, mind & spirit remember the essence of the teacher and it makes you smile inside and out…. AND you work it!  When I am at a class of one of my teachers (Mimi has been my teacher for about 10 years), I want them to be proud of me as one of their students/teachers who is spreading the joy of yoga to others and so I do not allow myself to be lazy whatsoever.   I am focused, I am present and I am integrating all they have taught me over the many years.   Great teachers leave lasting impressions on our soul.

Mimi’s advanced classes are challenging –in all the ways that feel good.  I left her class in full yoga bliss.  What is yoga bliss?  Well, remember the last article I wrote about the parasympathetic nervous system?  It leaves you feeling like all is well in the world.   My energy was flowing, my mind was clear, my heart was happy.  I felt like skipping.  Yes, skipping.  And as an aside… this makes me wonder:  What happens to us as adults that we do not skip unless we are with a child?  I skip with Jenna and I love it… when I go to Asheville next month, I am going to teach Sage to skip!!!

And it would be remiss of me if I forgot to tell you how proud I was of my sister.   It is challenging to find yoga classes for all levels and because of that some of our yoga on the road includes classes that are intermediate to advanced levels.  Was Sharon intimidated by the class?  NO!  Did she finish the class?  YES!  Was she mindful of limitations and honoring her body?  YES!  In my classes I tell students that if you are honoring your limitations and not pushing beyond your ‘comfortable edge’, then THAT is an advanced practice – one that can keep you safe from injury.  So, my beginner yogini sister, in some ways you may be just starting out, but you are advanced in the way you pay attention to your practice.

Mimi’s Boston studio was very easy to get to and street parking was a piece of cake (but do remember to bring quarters for the 2-hour limit meters).  The studio is simply beautiful.  When you take your yoga on the road, you should plan a visit to O2 Yoga in Boston.  Mimi teaches on Tuesday evenings and also on Saturdays (a beginner class at 9:30am and an intermediate/advanced class at 11am).  You can also take a class with her at her Somerville location on Mondays.  For more info on O2 Yoga, go to www.o2yoga.com.

In closing, my wish for you is that on your yoga journey that you find a yoga teacher who fills your heart with the joy of yoga – like Mimi does for me.  And when you practice yoga this week…… I hope the class leaves you with a feeling of yoga bliss and makes you want to skip!

02 Yoga Studio Boston

Today we once again ventured off to Boston for our weekly yoga class. This time to O2 located at 121 E. Berkley Street. First I should comment that it was a cinch to get to and parking was not a problem, which is just an added bonus.

Maureen selected this class because she wanted to introduce me to one of her primary teachers/studio owner/teacher Mimi Louriero.

Needless to say Maureen has been selecting the studios because I am a complete novice at choosing the right class. Well, today’s class Saturday 11:00, was a Power Yoga class, described as advanced and included arm balances, back bends and inversions, just a few things that are out of my realm of practice at this point in time, but I kept up. When the postures were too much for me I did variations but the Vinyasanas are beginning to come to me more naturally each time I practice. New to me, but something I liked, was that Mimi used straps during the class, giving us an increased ability to open our chests

and maintain balance in some of the standing postures. Sorry I am not familiar enough with the names of the poses to list them yet.

The studio was bright and airy; I absolutely loved the welcoming atmosphere and friendly faces of all I encountered.  The space also included a sitting/waiting area with a library for reference open to the students, there was a granite bench in the space to die for, loved it!!!

So take it from me– do not be intimidated by the class levels. This was a perfect example of a student, me a beginner, being in an advanced class 1.) doing what I could, 2.) watching what I could not and 3.) developing my practice.

By the way Maureen was AWESOME!!!!

We both left feeling that we have achieved what we came for: Maureen reconnected with her teacher and I had an opportunity to practice in a first class studio under the guidance of a first rate teacher, Mimi.

Decrease stress with yoga

Sharon and I met last week to put some structure around what topics we would post about and in what order.  We had so much fun thinking about it and planning it.  (Yes, the McLaughlin organizing gene in full force!)  As you can probably figure out from her two recent postings, we decided to write about some of the benefits of yoga in more detail.

As I was thinking about what to post for this entry, I was reflecting on why yoga makes us feel so good.  Then, low and behold, as I was eating breakfast yesterday morning I pulled out the latest Yoga Journal issue and I opened to the page I left off on the day before.  The article was titled Positively Prana.  It resonated with me because of my current daily practice of meditation, pranayama and restorative (my name = nappy) yoga.

In the article, Rod Stryker, a long time yoga teacher and founder of Para Yoga, writes “As you’ve probably heard, one reason asana (posture practice) leaves you feeling so good is that it activates your parasympathetic nervous system, thanks to two elements that almost all asana practices have in common – the lengthening and strengthening of musculature and calm, even breathing.”

Later in the article Rod writes “But the truth is that much of the yoga being practiced these days doesn’t do as much for the parasympathetic nervous system as you might think.  To build your parasympathetic nervous system, you need to do poses that encourage deep relaxation such as forward bends and hip openers; do fewer standing poses; and do more sitting, supine, and prone postures as well as inversions.  You also need to hold poses longer, as you would in restorative yoga, and dedicate longer periods of time to develop slow and complete breathing.”

So, kudos for Nappy Yoga and breathing!  At Living Yoga we constantly talk about the importance of breathing – inhale/exhale – prana – chi – moving the life force.  When you learn to flow your practice with the breath during yoga, it becomes a technique you can easily take off the mat.  For example, the other day I had a stiff neck – I did some alternate nostril breathing and it helped significantly.   We’ll write more about different breathing techniques in an upcoming entry.  In the meantime, if you would like to read Rod’s article in full:  http://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/2982

For more information on the parasympathetic nervous system and how that relates to yoga and reducing stress…. http://www.livewithyoga.net/articles.htm

Namaste,
~Maureen

All About Abs

You know by now that yoga works your entire body, so your abs must benefit as well. And it should come as no surprise to learn that the slow controlled motions combined with multiple poses strengthen the abdominal muscles. Yes, you can tone up your abs with a regular practice. Some of the postures that work the abs include: triangle pose, forward bend, butterfly, locust, boat and the cat. Of course there are many others, but these are more basic and easy for beginners.

Given this information next time you attend a class you can at least think about the move and what it is doing for your body. This knowledge may help with your movement and posture causing you to stretch a bit more knowing that it will elongate your abdominal muscles.  And as your core strengthens you decrease back pain and increase flexibility.

So during your class when your teacher asks you to do a forward bend you might think about how that one move is massaging the abdominal muscles, increasing lumbar spine flexibility, stretching your muscles and stimulating digestion.

Yoga Journal Magazine’s February 2010 issue has a great article titled “Core Values” which includes a 2 page cut out and save, 10 pose sequence to work the abdominals and build core strength. Visit the website yogajournal.com to see how you can build a sequence to target an area you want to focus on. Select the poses tab then select build a sequence.

By now you should be starting to realize there is a wide array of research options to assist you in building a yoga practice to benefit your individual needs. Consider Two Sister Journey as your first option when you have a question, we only a blog away from helping you, all you need to do is ask!

Yoga Builds Bone

A yoga practice is based on the needs of the individual and there are various reasons why people begin yoga. A few of the reasons I have recently heard include: to get in shape, to become more flexible, to decrease stress, to learn relaxation techniques, to control anxiety, and to help with sleep problems. So you see there are various reasons why each student might attend a class. And remember a good yoga teacher will offer alternative postures to compensate for the varied abilities of the students in the class.

Did you know…

You can shape your yoga practice to fit your individual needs.

Did you know…

Most people start yoga because they want the physical benefits that come with the asanas (poses/postures) but soon they come to realize there are many more advantages.

Did you know…

Yoga contributes to building bone, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis (the weakening of bone). Yoga builds bone with weight bearing activity that works not only the legs but the arms and upper bodies due to multiple postures.

Did you know…

The simple flowing moves are low impact and when combined with a gradual learning process of the postures can be beneficial to building bone.

Did you know…

Any weight bearing activity is movement that requires the muscles to move against gravity. When pressure is applied the cells that build bone are stimulated, causing the bone to become stronger and retain more calcium.

Did you know…

When yoga is used in conjunction with healthy habits can increase your quality of life.

Did you know…

If you are uncomfortable with starting a practice of yoga or just want more individualized attention you can ask for a private lesson. This may help alleviate any concerns you have about where to begin.

**** Feel free to shout out any requests you may have about a particular health benefit

or health concern. We will do our best to answer your questions, offer

guidance or direct you to the right source…

Beginner Research Info

A List of Books, Journals, Magazines, Websites that I used to get started….

OM yoga beginner-intermediate class [videorecording] / taught by Cyndi Lee.

Yoga Journal Magazine Any issue current or past

http://www.yogajournal.com

The seven spiritual laws of yoga : a practical guide to heal Deepak Chopra, David Simon

Yoga chick : a hip guide to everything Om Bess Gallanis ; illustrations by Sheila MacDiarmid.

Yoga Elizabeth Silas and Diane Goodney.

Yoga : the path to holistic health B.K.S. Iyengar.

Yogawebsites.com

http://www.yoga-websites.com/content/blogsection/7/77/ (Find the right yoga teacher and yoga class for you)